There’s no doubt that in the 21st century social media is the most powerful and convenient form of communication, with billions of people spending hours on social media platforms everyday. And amongst those billions of people, there are millions of skateboarders sharing and reacting to skate-related content every single day. No wonder the new generation of skateboarders is progressing faster than ever before, it’s about exposure. A couple of years ago kickflip crook nollie flip was not a trick people did first try, same goes for 540 big flip boardslides or treflip noseblunts but skaters like Gustavo Ribeiro seemingly make light work of these insane tricks. And if those tricks were ever done, they’d get saved for video parts, not just posted on the ‘gram. This shows you how much skateboarding has changed. It isn’t a bad thing at all by the way, because it really does show how much potential skateboarding has, especially to younger kids.
In this era, there are so many different types of skaters. You get the YouTube Skater – the guy that vlogs about his skate life with the homies and occasionally posts a trick tip. The Skate Rat – the guy that eats and breathes skateboarding, probably has a “Skate and Destroy” tattoo, prefers skating street because “skateparks are for the weak”, smokes cigarettes and drinks crazy amounts of beer daily. Only posts raw clips on social media. The Instagram Skater – the guy that posts trendy edits to his Instagram page, usually to music by Playboi Carti, Gunna, Lil Keed, Lil Uzi etc. This skater almost always wears his favourite fit when filming an edit. These differences amongst skateboarders are what make the culture so diverse.
When I think of Instagram skaters, many come to mind, but two that really stand out for me are DeAndre Thebpanya (@lil.dre._) and Hyun Kummer (@versace_plug). Both skaters have immaculate style and a cult-like following. For years they’ve dominated the “Instagram Edit” game, which brought them a lot of hate from the core skate community. Skaters typically didn’t like seeing this new way of expression through skateboarding. People that garnered a lot of attention through making skate edits to trap music, adding noticeable amounts of slow motion and wearing pretty expensive clothes/shoes. This dislike for instagram skaters was (and still is) probably the direct result of the fear of skateboarding becoming less exclusive and more identifiable as pop culture. Despite all that, Lil Dre and Versace Plug have proved that they’re more than just instagram skaters, with both of them releasing skate parts this year. Lil Dre in his Maxallure “Manifest Destiny” Part and Versace Plug in his Thrasher Part really shut the haters up for the most part, especially because both parts were released by Thrasher, a core skateboarding company.
Some might argue that social media is like a disease, slowly killing skateboarding from the inside. Look at the rate of content consumption for example. Nowadays the average skater has access to months worth of skate content at their fingertips, be it skate parts on youtube, instagram clips and edits etc. Back in the day, people didn’t have access to content the way we do. They’d see a video part once every few months and the only exposure they had was from people they saw skating physically. The fact that skaters nowadays have easy access to content could cause a lack of originality because people just keep replicating what they see right? Well, I don’t think so. Skateboarding is unique in the sense that even if you do the same trick as someone else, it’ll never look exactly the same. Everyone has their own natural style and that alone is keeps it original.
Social media has made the skateboarding community more interactive, which is why it has grown as much as it has. I think it’s rather cool that the community can exist so well on and off the internet.